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Conte fumes at questions over Inter’s desire after Champions League exit



The Nerazzurri crashed out of Europe on Wednesday, but their coach hit back at suggestions of a lack of determination

Antonio Conte hit back at criticism of his Inter side and claimed mistakes from officials also contributed to their Champions League exit after a goalless draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Nerazzurri crashed out of Europe on a wet Wednesday at San Siro as Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach advanced to the round of 16 following a 2-0 win for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Lautaro Martínez hit the crossbar early on and missed several other chances, while Alexis Sanchez’s powerful stoppage-time header struck Romelu Lukaku when it may have been heading for the back of the net.

That summed up Inter’s night, which ended with them finishing bottom of Group B and Shakhtar having to settle for a Europa League spot.

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It is the first time the Serie A side have come last in their Champions League group but Conte did not take kindly to questions about their desire.

He told a  Sky Sport Italia reporter: “These are your opinions that I respect, but I disagree.

“I think the team gave everything they had, it’s unbelievable that we weren’t able to score in 180 minutes [against Shakhtar].”

“The boys gave everything. We cannot make assessments now, there is much regret. I don’t feel like there was a lack of determination. There was a lack of goals and if you don’t score, you don’t win. 

“We weren’t lucky with referees and VAR throughout the Champions League, Inter were not respected. Go and see all the situations that have happened to us. We could have gone through.”

Conte also defended his substitutions and disagreed with Sky pundit Fabio Capello’s suggestion that he did not try a different approach with so much at stake.

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“I introduced Alexis Sanchez with 20 minutes to go including stoppages. We would’ve been unbalanced with three strikers, but then I think Lautaro ran out of steam. In midfield, those were the players I had,” the Inter boss said.

“It was either Alexis or [Christian] Eriksen for [Roberto] Gagliardini, but I preferred to add another striker and go for the win. When I saw Lautaro was out of steam, I introduced Eriksen.”

He added in response to former Milan coach Capello: “Of course I have a plan B. We have it but we don’t want to make it public, otherwise the opponents also prepare themselves for that.”



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